For the final episode of the year, Sam presents a few highlights from the 2019 Young China Watchers Conference, held on 2 November 2019 in partnership with the Lau China Institute at King’s College London.

The podcast begins with opening remarks from James Tunningley of YCW and Dr. Igor Rogelja of Lau China Institute. Tunningley provides an overview of a range of important events which took place over the past year, and introduces the theme of the conference, “PRC at 70: Behind the Headlines.” Rogelja elaborates on the importance of transcending simplistic narratives, especially at a time when the debate over containment versus engagement is reaching new heights in China-watching circles.

Next we listen to an excerpt from the keynote speech by renowned author Jonathan Fenby. Fenby describes the mix of confidence and concern which the current Chinese leadership applies to some of the challenges arising from the country’s leap to global prominence.

Frederick Ladbury of YCW introduces the first panel on science and technology, followed by an excerpt from panellist Adam Knight, PhD candidate at University of Leiden and co-founder of branding agency Tong Digital. Knight speaks about what he calls ‘techno-Orientalism:’ the misunderstanding of China’s current technological capabilities combined with the projection of Western fears of technology onto a foreign entity.

The second panel on Chinese diplomacy and the developing world is moderated by Tunningley. The podcast includes an excerpt from panellist Linda Calabrese, a development economist at the Overseas Development Institute. Calabrese emphasises the need to view China’s overseas activity as the result of many individual actors driven by individual motivations.

Our final panel covers the rise of Chinese millennials and is moderated by Sarah Montgomery of YCW. The featured speaker for this podcast is Vincent Ni, Senior Journalist with BBC and Yale Greenberg World Fellow. Ni advises against the generalisation of Chinese youth, and considers the factors which contribute to the wide variety of world views within this generation.

A summary report of the conference and award ceremony is available to download as a PDF below:

YCW-Lau 2019 Conference and Award Ceremony Summary


The YCW Podcast is a monthly podcast series by Young China Watchers. We’re a global community of young professionals, providing a platform to discuss the most pressing issues emerging from China today. We organize events with China experts in our 10 chapters across Asia, Europe and the U.S., fostering the next generation of China thought leaders.

Download and follow our podcast on Spotify, iTunes, Google Play Music and your usual platforms for podcasting.

Produced by Sam Colombie, with support from Johanna Costigan. Music: ‘We Build With Rubber Bands’, ‘Dirty Wallpaper’ by Blue Dot Sessions.

For any suggestions, recommendations or other notes, please email us at

YCW Podcast – 2019 YCW-Lau Conference – “PRC at 70: Behind the Headlines”
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